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Addressing dementia mate wareware stigma in Aotearoa New Zealand Post Cover Image

One of the greatest challenges about being diagnosed with dementia mate wareware is the stigma.

Many Kiwis with dementia mate wareware feel excluded, ignored and are treated differently for something beyond their control.

But Alzheimers New Zealand’s vision for an inclusive and dementia friendly Aotearoa New Zealand, where people living with dementia mate wareware are valued and can participate in their whānau and communities, is fostering compassion through education.

This journey was showcased during a presentation at the online and in-person Repositioning Dementia: Let’s get real event on World Alzheimers Day (21 September).

Underpinning the work to address stigma is the Dementia Declaration. It identifies what someone living with dementia mate wareware needs to live their best possible life, and was written by people living with dementia mate wareware.

“All of these things are things that we would want in our own lives, and that is no different for people living with dementia,” says co-presenter and Dementia Friendly Senior Advisor Dr Meg Spriggs.

The Educational Dementia Immersive Experience (EDIE) workshops play a pivotal role in understanding what dementia mate wareware is like and, just as importantly, to start a conversation.

Co-designed by people with dementia mate wareware, EDIE places people in the virtual ‘shoes’ of Edie to ‘walk’ his lived experience.

“At the end of the workshop, people have a better understanding of how to support someone with dementia mate wareware,” says co-presenter Dementia Learning Centre Director Dr Kathy Peri.

“Not only is the virtual reality programme effective in increasing awareness for the wider public, but there is also potential for it to be effective in upskilling carers and health professionals.”

A supplementary educational component to the virtual experience is the Dementia Friendly framework, allowing Alzheimers NZ to work with individuals, communities and organisations to foster a more compassionate society.

The online awareness module, Dementia Friends, helps people understand what dementia mate wareware is and how to support people living with dementia mate wareware in their communities. More than 18,000 Kiwis are Dementia Friends.

The Dementia Friendly Recognition Programme is an accreditation and recognition framework to support businesses in becoming a safe, friendly, accepting and supportive place for people with dementia mate wareware.

One recent example of such an achievement is Audika NZ, which became the first hearing provider to gain dementia friendly accreditation.

Alzheimers NZ is also supporting communities to become more inclusive of its residents living with dementia mate wareware.

“All of these aspects make up Alzheimers NZ’s novel education programme to promote understanding, clarify misconceptions, and encourage empathy,” says Kathy.

CAPTION: The Alzheimers NZ team at the latest Repositioning Dementia: Let’s get real event. From left: Dias Suwido, Lyneta Russell, Dr Kathy Peri and Amie Hickland.